Back to work on the allotment

Monday, 9 April 2007

OK, so I should have posted this blog before the start of the long weekend but the sun has been shining, I’ve been away from my beloved veggies for the last month and there has been shed loads to do. In any event, if y’all have been sitting on the www rather than communing with your plants then you have been in the wrong place.

I managed to smuggle back some bean seed from Houahini which is one of the Society islands about as far away from anywhere as you can get. I was visiting a vanilla farm and amongst the mix of vanilla vines, Noni plants, and every other exotic fruit tree you can name I saw some climbing beans with fabulous 50cm long pods of completely stringless green beans. The farmer said he’d been growing them for as long as he could remember and always from his own saved seed. He called them Chinese beans. Anyway, I found a couple of pods with nearly dry seeds in them and will be seeing what they manage when I sow them later this month. I also found a native chilli plant which is a common perennial across the equatorial regions of the world and will see how they grow too.

No doubt you have all been busy planting potatoes and salad crops and carrots and beetroot etc., etc. But this is a dangerous time to be seduced by an early warm spell. I am not in a hurry to start French and runner beans or courgette and squash. The danger of sowing too soon is that plants are up or needing transplanting just as a nasty cold snap hits us in early May. So if you haven’t sown these types of veg yet then wait another week or so.

I have sown fennel in pots in the greenhouse this weekend and because I want to create a new asparagus bed have sown F1 asparagus seed in the greenhouse too. Outside it’s been short rows of lettuce, rocket, radish, turnip and Italian parsley and more broad beans and some of my HDRA saved pea seed, (these under a cloche to help them on a bit). I will put cloches over the ground I am planning to sow my other beans this week as it is forcast warm for the next few days and so I can warm the ground up before sowing seed directly into the allotment around 20th April, (Hitler’s birthday). I have stopped sowing bean seeds in pots in the greenhouse and transplanting them as the shock always stops their growth for a while. Better to sow directly in warm ground.

Other crops to start now are spinach and get those brassicas growing in pots to transplant in May. Lime the ground you want to grow them in if it hasn’t had any for the last three or four years.

And finally, it’s all too easy to grow to much of stuff and end up with a glut you get sick of. Successional sowings in very small quantities means seeds go further and you make best use of available space. Even bulky crops like sweet corn and cabbages should be grown in moderation. How many lettuce will you eat in a fortnight say, and how many cabbage in a month?

Must dash. Time to pick some purple sprouting broccoli for supper!

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